Archrivals meet in pivotal league contests
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 11, 2012 1:48 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- It's back.
Conference Carolinas archrivals Mount Olive and Barton renew their long-standing rivalry on the basketball court today at "The Doghouse." The women tip off the early-season, east division doubleheader at 5:30 p.m.
The men hit the hardwood approximately 20 minutes after the conclusion of the women's contest.
Nearly 10 months ago, the Trojan women (9-3 overall, 3-0 CC) lost the conference tournament championship on the Bulldogs' home court. Barton has won six straight games in the series and 29 of 42 meetings overall since 1994.
MOC puts a five-game win streak on the line.
"I have been extremely pleased with our team's willingness to share the ball so far this season," said Trojans' head coach Wendy Lee. "We are looking for each other on the floor and making the unselfish plays that make coaching this team an honor.
"Players are beginning to push themselves out of their own individual comfort zone and sacrificing for the good of the team."
Lee said the Trojans must clear the glass on every possession, limit the Dogs' transition offense, minimize turnovers and get good shots on the offensive end of the court.
Mount Olive averages 16.6 assists as a team, shoots nearly 40 percent from the floor and out-rebounds the opposition by 2.6 boards a game.
Andrea Jones averages 17.8 points a game. Tamara Nesmith, who was named the league's player-of-the-week, knocks down 12.4 points per outing. Jasmine McDonald contributes 11.9.
Nyesha Willie is Barton's top scorer at 15.5 points a game. Faith Hunter scores 12.5, while Jannetta Robinson chips in 10.7. The trio is part of a Barton offense that also shoots 39 percent from the floor and likes to attack the basket.
The Trojan men (8-5, 1-2) have nearly the same game plan as the women. They must limit their mistakes, minimize the Bulldogs' second-chance scoring opportunities and improve communication on the defensive end.
Mount Olive leads the series 24-23 since 1994, but Barton has triumphed in 10 of the last 16 meetings since 2006.
"We're going into Wilson Gym tonight together (as a team) and work as hard as we've worked all year," said MOC head coach Joey Higginbotham. "It will be a great game between two great Division II programs. I absolutely enjoy being around this team. We've gone through a lot so far but we've grown and handled all of our adversity together.
"(We) are ready to turn it around."
Senior forward Craig Hayes and senior guard Derek Staton combine for 31.3 points a game for the Trojans. Darrell Patterson adds 10 points per contest, while Kason Cheeks averages 7.9.
As a team, the Trojans shoot nearly 44 percent from the field, but just 62 percent from the free throw line. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs collect nearly 81 points a game and are led by two double-figure scorers -- senior guard Jaren Haley (16.7 points) and Gerald Boston (15.2).